Glorification of violence coming back to haunt Zimbabwean societies

  Hardly a day passes without Zimbabweans encountering a horrific story of one incident of barbaric violence or another – be it in romantic relationships gone sour, misunderstandings between individuals reaching boiling point, armed robberies, or even in our political landscape. It is always shocking learning of jilted lovers gunning down their former sweethearts –

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

Hardly a day passes without Zimbabweans encountering a horrific story of one incident of barbaric violence or another – be it in romantic relationships gone sour, misunderstandings between individuals reaching boiling point, armed robberies, or even in our political landscape.

It is always shocking learning of jilted lovers gunning down their former sweethearts – some in the most horrendous fashion – with one of the latest being the perpetrator bizarrely filming himself as he committed the heinous act.

It was as if he actually relished what he was doing – possibly, in his distorted mind, hoping to replaying his ghastly deeds, in the same mold as watching a movie.

Which brings up the million dollar question.

Why has the culture of violence seemingly taken control of our societies in Zimbabwe?

In all my growing up (being 49 years old now) reports of violent acts – more so of the grizzly nature we witness nowadays – were virtually unheard of, especially outside the political realm.

Indeed, violence of a political nature has always been common place in this country – dating back from our history of tribal invasions and attacks, to colonial occupation, and the war of independence.

In so doing, our political leaders returned from the liberation struggle having been inculcated that violence was the primary means of achieving one’s goals – thereby, leading to a bloody trail of cold-hearted massacres of tens of thousands in the 1980s, hundreds of opposition supporters savagely murdered in the 2000s, and this barbarity still persisting to this day.

Nonetheless, this murderous disposition never entered our homes, communities or relationships.

In our youth, one could freely walk in the middle of the night back from a night of partying or clubbing – without ever worrying about being viciously attacked by robbers or sexual predators.

The worst that could happen between estranged lovers was the exchange of bitter letters – with words such as, ‘leave me in peace, and not in pieces’ – as well as some pathetic attempts at making the former partner jealous!

There was hardly any loathing and rage of such magnitudes as we abhorrently witness today.

So, what has gone wrong?

As a media and communication expert myself – having researched on how media messages affected the human mind and behavior – my money is firmly on the type of material we have chosen to expose ourselves.

Let us remember that, it has been shown that the human mind is incapable of differentiating between fiction or pure entertainment, and what is real.

It is a well established fact that media has the power to influence individual beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Therefore, the stuff we elect to watch on television, or in movies, or video games, or in real life – whether as a form of entertainment or actuality – can immensely affect how we think, feel and act.

A quick look at our societies reveals a most unsettling picture.

We have both the young and grown up being glued to their television sets watching WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), or UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).

There are those who cannot pass up a so-called ‘action’ or ‘thriller’ or even ‘horror’ movie – regarded as the best way of unwinding, and spending some quality leisure and relaxation.

In fact, I was so flabbergasted when my son stayed with me for a while, some time in 2015 – after spending many years apart, since his mother (not my current wife) worked in South Africa – when I discovered how he loved playing ‘Mortal Combat’.

I can never forget my utter shock at hearing for the first time the words, ‘finish him’, coming out of his game console!

That was the day I determined that he would never play such violent games again – but rather, educational, or at least ‘innocent’ ones, as racing (which did not include ‘Grand Theft Auto’, since that is just a glamorization of stealing cars).

I am someone who does not watch movies of any kind, or practically anything that is not a documentary, or play video games – neither do I enjoy music – as such, this was not particularly a very difficult decree for me to make.

Nonetheless, my belief is that violence of any type begets more violence – which also flows into the violence we ourselves love watching, which in turn translates into breeding a culture of violence in our lives.

The same logic applies for those who watch pornographic or sexually explicit material – which, I strongly believe, has resulted to the increase in incidents of sexual crimes, and other deviances within our communities.

Of course, there will always be those who seek to defend their obsession with such media output – claiming that they themselves never turned into violent monsters or sexual perverts.

All I can say to them is, ‘Good for you’!

Nevertheless, just because an individual has been having unprotected sex for years and has either never impregnated anyone or has never been impregnated by someone – can never be used to disprove that pregnancy is largely a result of unprotected sexual relations.

This refusal to acknowledge and take responsibility of the fact that violence in our entertainment is a major factor in the upsurge in violent behavior, is the main reason countries as the US still struggle with this crisis.

They may try to restrict the debate to gun control – but, that is merely dealing with the symptoms, and not the cause.

Why are Americans so fond of guns, in the first place – and, why would an individual with a gun end up shooting innocent children at a school?

That should tell us that there is a deeper problem than solely restricting access to  guns.

However, the elephant in the room is the multi-billion dollar movie and games industry – a sacred cow no American is prepared to challenge.

They would rather fight the lesser evil – the National Rifle Association (NRA).

We need to face reality – if we genuinely desire to see a significant depreciation in violence in our societies, then we need to implement genuine changes in our lifestyle choices.

Our obsession with violence as some form of entertainment needs to be seriously challenged and questioned.

The mind has no ability whatsoever in making the distinction between what is pure fun or what is real – as such, all that violence we love so much will, one way or another, end up being expressed in real life.

For the human mind socialized to perceive violence as entertainment – even shooting in cold blood one’s own lover will appear as a movie.

That is why the earlier-mentioned young man opted to record the entire gruesome scene.

It is time that we took this matter of violence in our country with the seriousness it deserves.

We should not blame anyone should we prefer not to forgo our favorite movies, sports, and games – all the sake of fun.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]

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